Monday, 15 October 2012

Medals with a fall

You would think, given the furore over McKayla Maroney's vault silver and Mustafina's tying for third (and eventually winning) in the AA, that these gymnasts had somehow cheated and deductions had not been applied properly. Given the open-ended scoring, relying on the gymnast's own difficulty, medals with falls were literally impossible in the old perfect 10 system- despite the deductions for a fall being much less. The current COP has sought to offset this by upping the fall deduction to a full point. It was 0.8 last quad. But there have been several medals with a fall since the new scoring, 2006, and possibly even before then. Certainly there are more than most people think, yet only a few inspire uproar!


McKayla Maroney, Vault Event Final- Silver

McKayla's fall on her second vault took a full point off in the execution score. However, vault is easier than other event finals to bounce back from, because the fall deduction averages to 0.5 when the two vaults are averaged. McKayla had the highest difficulty and there was extremely little to deduct in the second vault except for the fall and lack of height. Interestingly enough, had she landed her amanar in bounds (she received an 0.3 deduction for not doing so)- she would have taken gold. Her medal is testimony to what an excellent vaulter she is, and also how weak the rest of the vault field was. If a girl with a fall and an out of bounds can beat you, then something is wrong. Izbasa's vaults were extremely weak for a gold winner, and Paseka's should have received a boatload of deductions, not least for not being fully around.

Yamilet Pena and Janine Berger both qualified to vault finals with a fall.

Aliya Mustafina, AA- Bronze

This is a bit of an odd one, because she did NOT win bronze with a fall. She tied for bronze with a fall. The medal was determined by her and Raisman's top 3 scores, so the beam of both was dropped. Therefore her beam had nothing to do with how the medal was determined- so it wasn't won with a fall. Nevertheless, Aly had a huge mistake on beam so she couldn't drop her weak bars. So she was left with counting a weak event. Mustafina did not count any weak event, and had 7.0 bars. Not a gigantic surprise there. Only 4 gymnasts were capable of vying for a medal. Mustafina was able to be one of those 4. In what world are Sandra Izbasa, Deng Linlin and Huang Qiushuang top AA-ers?


Yao Jinnan, AA- Bronze

Yes, this one flies well under the radar. Yao fell off beam and would have ended the eternal Komova V Wieber controversy by beating them both had she stayed on. She was still able to score a 13.933 for an excellent beam, which was well able to beat Raisman's disaster of a time on bars where she received a 12.9. This was another fairly weak field, with Ana Porgras dropping well down due to her FTY and Huang Qiushuang once again being a bit of a headcase.


Rebecca Bross, AA- Bronze

Rebecca also fell off beam. She received an extremely high score- 14.1, which was an overscore given the rest of the routine, which was not perfect. However, Huang Qiushuang whow as 4th had a bit of a nightmare on floor so the placement is probably correct. Another win with a fall that is totally blanked.


Rebecca Bross, AA- Silver

Rebecca missed her tuck full in her last pass and put her hands down- which is technically a fall, and received an extremely low 12.875 for it. She had very high difficulty and only lost to Bridget Sloan by half a tenth, in yet another example of a desperately weak field.


Cheng Fei, Vault Event Final- Bronze

This is the other medal with a fall that people remember, not just because of the fall but because she still managed to beat Alicia Sacramone, who vaulted cleanly. The reason behind this was that Cheng Fei had so much more difficulty than Alicia that the fall made very little difference. The difference in difficulty in Cheng's favour is 0.45. The fall (worth 0.8 in this code) averaged to 0.4.Alicia hopped on her landings and great as her form is, Cheng's is second to none. Controversial- but understandable.

Nastia Liukin and He Kexin both qualified into the uneven bars final despite falls in prelims because of their extremely high difficulty.


Jade Barbosa, AA- Bronze (tie)

Jade brought a full-in pike to her knees and touched the floor with her hands, receiving a score of 14.00. Her high difficulty across her events still brought her up higher than 4th and 5th place finishers, Nastia Liukin and Yang Yilin. Her beam and vault really sealed the deal, and the high bars scores of the other 2 were no match.

Vanessa Ferrari, AA- bronze (tie)

Vanessa fell on her Comaneci on bars, literally a few seconds in. Similar to Barbosa, her high difficulty was enough to keep her ahead of Liukin and Yang. 

Li Shanshan, Beam Event Final- Silver (tie, no bronze awarded)

Li's beam was so flawless (fall aside) and so difficult- 0.6 and 0.7 more than the other medal winners, that this result was pretty much a no-brainer. She would have received a monster 16.7 without the fall and would have wiped the floor with Nastia and Steliana easily.


Vanessa Ferrari, AA- Gold

The only gold medal with a fall! Vanessa fell off beam, and still received a generous 14.9 (15.7 without the fall). She exploded onto the scene these championships, and coupled with ehr high difficulty was just about able to steal the scene from Jana Bieger, who also had very high difficulty. Her bars won the day for her, as Jana was weak there. This still does evoke controversy, but Vanessa was still clearly the better gymnast that day. Sandra Izbasa who came third had such a low bars score I thought she had fallen too. But nope, just very sloppy.

So, 10 falls taking medals (or tying for bronze, as the case may be before tiebreakers) since the introduction of the new code. And at least four qualifying into event finals with a fall. Bear in mind this is only covering the major competitions- Worlds and Olympics. Clearly it is more common than what the average fan thinks, yet the majority of the above are not remembered and not talked about! It's a shame to lambast some with falls and ignore the rest. It is possible there are falls with medals in the old perfect 10 code, and I will investigate that- though it is much harder then of course. If anyone knows of any, let me know!


  1. Ferrari also got a AA bronze in 2007 with a fall on her Comaneci on UB. She has been angry in some interviews about losing the tiebreaker/ Ponor qualifying, so she considering this sheshouldn't really be complaining.

    Both Pena and Berger qualified to the vt finals with falls too. This reveals how weak London's vault field was, with the team sizes being reduced, as a lot of potential vaulters such as Sacramone and Li Yiting got left home, Cheng tearing her achilles, the Barbosa scandal, and Komova/Mustafina getting injured so they couldn't train second vaults. It's interesting how the Olympic gold medalist had worse vaults than each world champion in the quad, whereas all the other EF winners usually had the best routines of the quad. The vault finals were pretty disappointing for me because of this.

    1. Ah thank you. I didn't notice anything amiss about her bars score, it's easier when they have the e-score mentioned too of course, especially in a quad where I'm a bit unfamiliar with the scoring.

      True, it's for some reason easy to forget that she pretty much always incurs the fall deduction. I'm always so intent on seeing her get up in one piece! I forgot about Berger though.

      Yes, it is nice to see vault have such diversity- but it really impacts on quality. I would like to see ALL gymnasts have to do two vaults again. If the specialists can keep improving then there's no real reason to fear they would automatically be denied their 'place'. Thinking about it, in 1996 they all had to do 2 vaults, and they all had to do compulsory and optional routines. Even though gymnastics is more difficult now, a lot of routines then were as well.

  2. Other than Maroney, Cheng and Li Shan Shan (but correct me if I'm wrong - a 6.6-6.8 difficulty in beam was quite normal during the 05-08 quad, right?), the rest happened during the AA where they essentially had chances to do well in three other apparatuses. What pisses me about vault medalists who medal with a fall is that they didn't even execute their vault (the one where they fell) properly yet they still got full credit for it. 1.0, in my opinion, is too little a deduction, especially considering that they do 2 vaults. But that's all gonna change this quad, right? Also, I kinda hate the fact that the difficulty score is proving to be a huge buffer for gymnasts who are weak in execution. But then again, I also think that gymnasts CAN'T not be rewarded for doing exceptionally more difficult skills... it's all very confusing for me!

    LOL sorry I'm ranted quite a bit here!

    1. Yes it was. Even now with 2 less elements, there are quite a few around the 6.6 range. 7.3 was really awesome though, and we might see that again as beam is being bumped a bit in the new code. Yes most were AA medals, but had the fields been stronger it would never have happened. Almost all medals with a fall happened in exceptionally weak fields.

      I don't have a major problem with the current deduction. In a way I do, because Yamilet Pena should not have been able to qualify with a vault she has no hope of ever standing up, and a so-so DTY. In a way though- it shouldn't really matter. The other gymnasts should be able to beat a girl carrying such a major deduction, and the fact that they couldn't speaks volumes about how absolutely weak they are, and how strong the girl with the fall is. If you're carrying an 0.5 deduction you shouldn't be able to medal because you should be beaten soundly. But that hasn't happened.

      Yes, the new vault final scoring will add the difficulty of the two vaults, add 10, divide by 2, and then subtract the total deductions of both vaults from the total. We will be seeing scores of 13ish in vault finals. With this scoring, McKayla and Cheng Fei would both have gotten 4th. So it is not entirely foolproof, because the quality is still so bad!

      Well there are substantial execution deductions, more than there ever was. It is the emphasis on artistry in the new code that is the most interesting. After all, high difficulty did not save Vanessa Ferrari and lower difficulty was no barrier to Aliya.

  3. Sandra Izbasa actually has a world AA medal - she took bronze in 2006.

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